Julie Clawson at onehandclapping posts a long paper that describes how the physical shape of the Bible has changed over time, starting with scrolls and later moving to the current book (codex) form.
She talks in particular how the shift from scrolls to books helped cement the understanding of the Bible as a unified whole and aided the development of the canon:
While there were many factors contributing to the development of the Christian canon, the existence of the codex help the process. Although it was not “until the fourth century that relative agreement was reached about precisely which books should be in the [New Testament] canon,” the process began as soon as the first Christian documents were written. The question of which books were the proper ones to follow was an important issue for the early church. Many books claimed, some falsely, to give true Gospel accounts or to teach true theology. For the lay Christian who was eager to encounter any Christian writing, there existed a great danger of being exposed to incorrect books.
With the invention of the codex, collections of writings were made possible. As a result of these collections, “when certain, approved, texts were gathered into small collections this had the effect of ostracizing and isolating texts which were not deemed suitable for inclusion.” The codex prevented the easy spread of random writings that were not approved by the church leaders. If they created a collection and left certain writings out, those writings had a very small chance of being seen as important by other Christians….
In addition, “the users of these codices would have accepted all the texts in the Bible codex as having equal status.” When the writings of Peter were placed next to the writings of Paul, both were seen as valid. When those writings had existed as separate scrolls, division grew and there were opposing sides of those who followed Peter and those who followed Paul. The inclusion of both in one codex gave them equal status.
Julie also discusses how digitizing the Bible and posting it on websites may affect interpretation by lessening the impression of unity provided by a physical book. On the other hand, she says, digitization allows more interaction with the text.
Julie notes that this paper was originally a college research paper. She posted it on Google Docs for the world to see, which is an interesting way of archiving old files that—who knows?—will probably be useful to someone.
Note: we added paragraphs to the block quote.